Women we are taught are insinctive nurturers, protectors, carers and empathisers - more compassionate towards, and in tune with, the world. Which leads me to conclude that Sharon Shabangu, SA Minister of Mineral Affairs is actually a man. There is no other way to explain her nonchalant dishing out of prospecting licenses - putting vast swathes of pristine eco-sensitive environments under devastating threat - or the controversy after controversy that's wracking her department about personal connections with mining licensees and revolving doors between mining business and the ministry. Check out verlorenvelei.co.za - another piece of our ecology facing extermination from mining. And as for the fracking that Shabangu seems to be a huge fan of, none but her ministry and her petroleum industry mates think its a good idea. Prof. Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University - the world's leading scientist on the evaluation of fracking has concluded that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is ridiculously dangerous! In a skype lecture that he gave from Cornell, which I attended here, Prof. Ingraffea stated that the technology used is not 60 years old as the Ministry would have us believe, but a combination of practices each of which is no older than two decades and all of which have only been combined for about ten years. The fracking that's tried and tested is only for oil exploration, but our Minister chooses to ignore facts - pandering always to mining interests. If you can, get hold of a documentary called Gasland. If that doesn't inspire you to take your place in the anti-fracking lobby, nothing will! Fracking is catastrophic, but Shabangu's complete dismissal of environmental concerns has reached such proportions that the government task-team recently appointed to investigate whether the current moratorium on fracking should be lifted does not include anyone from Water or Environmental affairs. Let's take a wild guess where that's heading. And it gets better. The open cast mining practices that currently threaten the dunes of Transkei have been banned in Australia - but no fear when Shabangu is here. The Australians have just brought it over to SA, proposing to mine the mostly state-controlled Transkei beachfront. The irony is that Ms. Shabangus perennial excuse for all this madness is job and wealth creation. But fracking and mining are not labour intensive, and jobs are lost when the minerals run out - ask any ex mining boom town now down to its last five residents. Tourism employs people and can last for always - but an ecotourism project in the very same Transkei region as where the mining is proposed was halted in its tracks by government - a project that would have brought in half a billion Rand of revenue in its first decade. Indeed, if our country is to employ and empower, tourism, and eco-tourism in particular, hold huge potential! Look at Botswana! Entire communities have been uplifted and co-own wildlife lodges generating millions. It can be done! The models exist! But where's the money for you in that hey Shazzy Shabangy? She has even given Coal of Africa the right to open an open cast coalmine next to Mapungubwe - ignoring protests from every quarter - even dismissing the fact that if the mine opens up Mapungubwe will not be declared a UN Heritage Site as was planned for this year. She's mad! So I'm pleading with all who read this blog - and women in particular! Get involved and put enough pressure on our mining's mistress to either be dismissed or to change her ways, before any hope of upliftment through eco-tourism lies under a sludge of oil covered in coal dust as she struts off in the Prada boots bribery bought her.
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